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Oedipus the King (1968) Online

Oedipus the King (1968) Online
Original Title :
Oedipus the King
Genre :
Movie / Drama
Year :
Directror :
Philip Saville
Cast :
Christopher Plummer,Lilli Palmer,Richard Johnson
Writer :
Michael Luke,Paul Roche
Type :
Time :
1h 37min
Rating :
Oedipus the King (1968) Online

This classic (Greek) tale tells how a noble youth accidentally marries his own mother, kills his own father (deliberately) and ends up paying a terrible price for invoking the wrath of the Gods.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Plummer Christopher Plummer - Oedipus
Lilli Palmer Lilli Palmer - Jocasta
Richard Johnson Richard Johnson - Creon
Orson Welles Orson Welles - Tiresias
Cyril Cusack Cyril Cusack - Messenger
Roger Livesey Roger Livesey - Shepherd
Donald Sutherland Donald Sutherland - Chorus Leader
Friedrich von Ledebur Friedrich von Ledebur - King Laius (as Friedrich Ledebur)
Dimos Starenios Dimos Starenios - Priest
Alexis Mann Alexis Mann - Palace Official
Oenone Luke Oenone Luke - Antigone
Cressida Luke Cressida Luke - Xemene
Minos Argyrakis Minos Argyrakis - Chorus
Manos Destounis Manos Destounis - Chorus
George Dialegmenos George Dialegmenos - Chorus

King Laius does not appear in the original play; he is only referred to.

Epilogue: Citizens of our ancestral Thebes Gaze on Oedipus the Mighty and once Masterful; And count no man blessed in his life until he's passed beyond all pain and earthly strife. Sophocles circa 430 B.C.

Donald Sutherland's voice is dubbed by another actor.

User reviews



Sophocles on cinema is a delight; but with a dream cast that includes the lovely, talented Lili Palmer, the great Orson Welles, the charming Cyril Cusack, the arresting Donald Sutherland in a most unusual role, and of course stalwarts Christopher Plummer and Richard Johnson, the effect can be heady.

I recommend the film to anyone who cares for drama and acting. I am amused that the film has not been marketed intelligently by the studios and remains unseen by many who would have loved to see the film.

The scenes where Oedipus unknowingly kills his own father is captured on film in a truly remarkable way, suggesting the fleeting moment where recognition between father and son is totally implausible.

Jocasta's (Lili Palmer) performance is top notch--probably her best role ever. Cyril Cusack, Orson Welles, and Donald Sutherland add additional flavour to this remarkable effort.

I have always wondered why the famous cinematographer Walter Lassally did not choose to film the movie in the letterbox or cinemascope format, which would have given the subject an epic sweep it deserved. The format used by Lassally restricted the film to the level of a play on film rather than cinema capturing the great play on celluloid. Even with this fault, the film will remain one of my favourites. I commend Phillip Saville for his casting--bringing together great actors on both sides of the Atlantic.

I doubt if the ancient Greeks could have enjoyed the play any better than on a technicolor screen with special effects.


A mixed cast of British and Canadian performers pose picturesquely on authentic Greek locations for this labored version of Sophocles' tragedy about the unlucky young man who is cast out at birth by Laius, his father, king of Thebes, encounters him in adulthood and, not knowing his identity, kills him, then marries - again by chance - his own mother, and takes over the kingdom to which - ironically - he is entitled by reason of birth. After that, it's all downhill, with the god Apollo cursing the whole of Thebes until Oedipus accepts the terrible punishments he himself has called down on the killer of Laius.

Walter Lassally's camera is the star of the film. The killing of Laius, used over the credits and reprised a number of times later, is a barrage of swooping overhead and hand-held shots, intercut with freeze-frames, that captures the frenzy and confusion of the attack. He also makes the most of the locations, treating us to stylish skyline shots of the blind prophet Tiresias and attractively spacing the black-clad elders of Thebes around the weathered stones of an ancient amphitheater.

Christopher Plummer, however, is no tragic hero, and in his uncreased white off-the-shoulder gown flounces like a debutante at his coming-out ball. Richard Johnson, ferociously bearded as Creon, seems intentionally made ugly so as not to threaten Plummer's place at the center of events.Donald Sutherland leads the chorus, but has been unaccountably re-voiced, probably by British actor Patrick Allen. Orson Welles, who in those days specialized in cameos that required booming pronouncements of doom, (eg, Father Mapple in MOBY DICK), is customarily ominous as Tiresias. Other than for the locations and the photography, this is a failure, if an honorable one.
Mitars Riders

Mitars Riders

While it seems a little strange to begin with a spoiler for a 2,600 year old story (one would assume many people already know the tragic tale of the downfall of the Theban king), for those rare few who do not I must give a word of warning: director Philip Saville begins the film, under the opening credits, by revealing (in unfortunately dated slow-motion camera technique, using weird hallucinogenic camera angles) the central mystery of the play.

This move, though, is merely a foreshadowing of Saville's additional odd directorial choices (intercutting flashbacks to the regicide at some more inappropriate moments, for example; suddenly having the king and his advisors sitting among the ruins of a Greek amphitheatre which, one would think, would not have been in RUINS when they were originally built; or even something as obvious as knowing that when Oedipus calls his citizens "children of Cadmus" that he doesn't literally mean children, but of the bloodline of Cadmus -- so there is no need to have a handful of waifish, pre-pubescent boys kneeling at the king's first entrance so that he can admonish the "children" to arise.)

You will rarely see a hammier performance than that of Christopher Plummer as Oedipus. His interminably long pauses as he tries to work through his emotions bring to mind a lower- echelon drama school's production of Hamlet while, on the other end of the spectrum, his shouting, scenery-chewing antics in scenes opposite Orson Welles as Tiresias and Richard Johnson as Creon merely show how he is outclassed by his scene partners.

The final bit of icing on this baklava, as it were, must be reserved for the performance of a young Donald Sutherland as the Chorus leader. Almost totally unrecognizable under a hideous black pageboy wig, with a voice that has been re-dubbed, he sounds like and resembles a tunic-wearing Prince Valiant in an old Steve Reeves Hercules movie. Since there is already a mash-up of accents (Plummer is Canadian, Lilli Palmer is German and the rest British), one can only think that Sutherland's dubbing is less because his accent doesn't quite fit in with his fellow Thebans, but that the poor young actor simply couldn't speak the lines with any acting chops. I'd love to hear the original.